The Greatest Company in the History of the World
Note: The views expressed on this page are mine and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of past or present employers, or any other person or group with which I have been affiliated. In no case should anything on this we site be attributed to the Microsoft Corporation or any affiliated entity.
I have greatly admired Microsoft for as long as I have been aware of the company. I honestly believe that Microsoft is a great company. It provides high-quality products and services that allow people to accomplish amazing things and make their personal and professional lives easier and more productive. And I really don't understand why the company is the target of so much animosity.
Quality Products That Keep Getting Better
Many of the complaints I here are about the quality of Microsoft products. And many of these complaints are in some ways legitimate. It would be great if Windows never crashed. It would be great if there were never any problems with documents imported into Word from another file format. It would be great if I never had an annoying error message pop up. Etc., etc., etc. That's all true. And it would be great if my car could fly.
No product is perfect, but building advanced applications and modern
operating systems are enormously complex tasks. When significant problems
are discovered, Microsoft has been quick to respond with updates and patches.
Moreover, it is well known that Microsoft puts billions of dollars every
year in to research and development – far more than its competitors.
As a result, many of Microsoft’s products – such as Microsoft’s
word processing and other office applications – are routinely picked by
independent software reviewers as the best choice among the many competing
products. The software industry is
still young, but innovation is happening at an incredible pace and products, are
now able to do more things while at the same time becoming more reliable and
easier to use. And Microsoft has
directly benefited consumers by taking a leading role in these
developments. One look at the development of Microsoft products over the
past several years clearly shows a commitment to innovation and customer
satisfaction. It is a safe bet that most of the things you can imagine Microsoft
products doing (or not doing) will happen long before my car will be able to
Besides, if you don't like a Microsoft product, then don't use it. If you say that you don't have any choice, then you are saying that you are better off with it than without it (another example of Microsoft making your life easier). If you mean that there are not any other product choices, that's just bulls**t, and you know it. There are many word processing programs, but none of them are as advanced and easy to use as Microsoft Word 2000. There are many different office suites, but none of them are as good as Microsoft Office 2000. And, yes, there are even other desktop operating systems, but they just aren't as useful as Windows 98 or Windows NT / Windows 2000.
And Just How Does Microsoft Preclude Competition in the Software Industry?
When Microsoft was formed in 1975, there was no software industry.
Today, there are millions of software developers and thousands of
software companies in one of the fastest growing sectors of the worldwide
economy. In fact, by creating a
common platform on which to build software applications, Microsoft has enabled
much of this growth and innovation, to the benefit of all consumers.
And the barriers to entry in this industry are practically non-existent.
Any kid with a good idea and some marketing savvy can start a successful
software company out of his bedroom with nothing more than a single PC and an
Believe it or Not, Improving Products and Adding Functionality Really is a Good Thing
Some people seem to have been taken in by the Justice Department's claims that there was something wrong with integrating new features into the operating system. The most commonly used example is the integration of Internet Explorer ("IE") into Windows 95 and Windows 98. One person I know complained that when she bought a new computer, IE was already there, and she didn't know how to remove it. I explained to her that it's a relatively simple matter to remove the desktop icon and other access points for IE. But this will only hide IE from the user, it won't remove the functionality from Windows. This can't be done without crippling the entire operating system. There is really no place where "Windows" ends and "Internet Explorer" begins. Many of the files that are used by IE are used by other parts of the operating system as well. They are not all contained in a single folder as might be the case with a completely separate application.
More importantly, however, you can't remove the IE functionality from Windows without causing more problems down the line. Virtually all new applications (Microsoft and non-Microsoft) that are designed to run under Windows 95/98 depend on the Internet functionality of Windows. Removing Internet functionality from Windows would cripple many functions in other products and would force software developers to put redundant Internet functions separately in every products. This is the advantage of integrating basic functions into the operating systems -- it makes software more efficient. Remember when each program had its own separate font management (e.g., you had a fonts just for your word processor which you couldn't use in any other program), its own separate file management, its own separate printer drivers (you had to set up your printer in every individual program?. And there were numerous separate utilities that you had to install individually for things like file management, disk compression, basic networking functionality. These are the good old days that Joel Klein and his ilk would have us go back to -- the integration of these functions made some separate products obsolete and hurt some small companies, but we as consumers and computer users are undeniably better off -- but I digress.
Getting back to the issue of trying to "remove" Internet Explorer form Windows, I guess I just don't understand why anybody would want to delete IE in the first place. I have never wanted may computer to do fewer things or do things less efficiently. It's a simple enough matter to download Netscape Navigator if you want a different browser (although IE has been chosen as the better browser by most independent reviewers, some people apparently prefer Netscape Navigator). In fact by including IE in Windows, Microsoft makes it a lot easier to get Navigator - you can download it instead of having to get it on disk.
Being a Tough Competitor is Not a Crime
A lot has been made about the language used in some e-mail from Microsoft executives and employees regarding how Microsoft has been aggressive in competing. So what? That's what companies are supposed to do in a free market economy.
I've also heard criticism about Microsoft donating to political campaigns and hiring lobbyists to press its interests in Washington. But what large companies don't do this? For years, Microsoft was criticized for not paying enough attention to politics. I guess it's damned if you do, and damned if you don't. It is especially appropriate for Microsoft to do this now, given the fact that Microsoft competitors hired lobbyists and consultants (like Robert Bork and Bob Dole) to press the Justice Department to bring the case against Microsoft in the first place.
24 July 2005